Then Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders, “Please consider another story (165).
“Once there was a landowner who planted a vineyard; he also put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, & built a watchtower.
“Then, after he had rented the vineyard to tenants, he went away on a trip.
“When the season came to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants beat one of his servants, killed another, and stoned another. When the landowner sent more servants, the tenants treated them the same way.
“So finally the landowner sent his son to collect. ‘Surely they will respect my son,’ he thought. But the tenants actually killed the landowner’s son, thinking they could take ownership of the vineyard by force.
“So, when the owner of the vineyard comes himself to collect, what do you suppose he’ll do to those tenants?” Jesus asked.
The teachers of the law & the Pharisees did not hesitate in their answer. “He will certainly kill those evil men,” they said, “and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest when it’s due.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read this in the inspired scriptures? ‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the cornerstone — the most important stone of all. God has caused this to happen & it’s a marvelous thing to see!’
“Everyone who falls on that cornerstone will be cut to pieces; and if that cornerstone falls on anyone, it will crush him to dust. Since you reject God by rejecting me, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you & given to people who will produce fruit for God.”
Because Jesus was challenging their authority openly, the chief priests & Pharisees wanted to arrest him right then & there. But they hesitated, because they were still concerned about the potential reaction of crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
(165) Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19